When Timemelters (formerly known as Wicca) was first launched, it came across as a hugely ambitious and entertaining game. This title, developed by Autoexec Games, which was formed by Vincent Blanchard, the co-creator of Sang-Froid: Tales of the Werewolf, puts players in the shoes of the witch Teagan as she attempts to defend her community from a mysterious uprising of the undead. Timemelters is an RTS that plays from a third-person perspective and even includes some tower defense systems to munch through swarms of zombies, so there’s a lot going on.
We’ve had the opportunity to play a preview build of the game, which allowed us to muck around in its environment and get a feel for the mechanics and what’s on offer, and while we can see that Timemelters has a lot of potentials, we’re not yet persuaded. The novel is set in 16th century Scotland and is partially based on historical events. The region is plagued with armies of the undead, legendary monsters make up some of your closest companions, and you play as a witch, so it’s far from a historically accurate portrayal of these very loosely documented legends. The goal of the game is to use your supernatural abilities to defend certain sites and people against zombie waves, all while the scenario unravels the mystery of why the dead are rising.
Before we go into the mechanics, it’s worth mentioning that Timemelters has yet to be given a release date or window, so a lot could happen between now and then. In any case, as Teagan, you’ll have access to a variety of magical talents. These include launching damage-dealing ranged assaults, summoning supernatural entities to aid in the fight, animating trees (think Harry Potter’s Whomping Willow), and even exploiting time loops to avoid death’s grips. The abilities you’re given give you a lot of flexibility in how you approach combat, which plays like an RTS, so you’ll need to prepare ahead if you want to survive a mission.
The hordes of undead saunter approach the goal you’re guarding, and it’s up to you, Teagan, to utilize the battlefield to stop them in their tracks. You can’t just charge up to zombies and use skills to kill them because they’ll quickly overwhelm you, and the majority of your abilities are useless in close combat. Understanding the map, summoning creatures, awakening trees, and efficiently using your time loop are all essential for success. While this design appears to make sense on the surface, it feels oppressive in practice. Despite being a magical witch, Teagen is ineffective in combat; in fact, if you’re using your close-range powers, you’re probably dead already. The fighting isn’t really enjoyable to play as a result of this design. You never truly feel in control, and because the battlefields are often rather empty, you’ll find yourself with a limited number of alternatives for how to approach combat.
Our greatest concern with Timemelters right now is that the design is still quite simplistic. We see the potential and what this game could become in the future, but for now, it just feels like a technical demonstration of how magical abilities operate in video games. The world is sparse, the controls are tough, and it was also pretty taxing on my PC’s hardware – We were seeing severe frame rate drops on a regular basis, despite exceeding the current system requirements.